In this first blog post, I’d like to differentiate our looks and who we are. Somewhere in between those two lies our self-confidence and/or self-respect. I especially want to dedicate this blog post to little girls and young women out there who are trying to find their self-confidence. Perhaps, if you’re a mother or guardian to young women, this blog may also be especially useful.
I moved to Miami from Toronto in 2009, and I’ve come to realize how looks are defined so differently across cultures and cities. Miami and Toronto are just a 3 hour flight away but the differences and demands on looks vary so much that it affects huge industries from cars to healthcare. Here in Miami, women MUST have their nails done, a huge adjustment for me from Toronto since that was not the norm at all. Also, here in Miami, breast augmentation is so normal, you’re almost not a woman yet if you haven’t had them done. I soon realized that my self-confidence was based on how my looks fared in the city I lived. I thought I fared pretty well in Toronto with my looks, so I thought my self-confidence was where it should be. When I moved to Miami, this self-confidence of mine was tested and I had to change my frame of mind entirely to keep my core intact despite my surroundings or wherever I lived.
You see, a common mindset is that we are our looks, we are these bodies. My hair, nose, lips, arms, and legs are all a part of what makes up who I am. By maintaining our looks or looking our best, we put our ‘best foot’ forward. When I have my nails and hair done, my most flattering outfit on, I AM attractive. People would often look at the mirror and either admire themselves or be disappointed.
Well now, I have a different framework for you to try and a new mindset I encourage especially women to adapt: I am NOT my body, my body is simply a gift that I have been given. I can chose to decorate this gift whichever way suits me, I can enhance this gift however way I can to my abilities, but this gift is NOT me. This body is my vehicle to go through life in this world today.
When we adopt this mindset, the level of self-respect will remain constant in knowing who we are. Our self-confidence will no longer be affected by our looks. Everyone is given a special, unique gift of their bodies. These gifts are not always perfect, although for some, maybe they feel it’s perfect. The ‘beauty’ that’s praised by a lot of magazines, instagrams, and other media is based on the perceptions of the majority, but as you can see, that definition of beauty relies on the perceptions of others. And if one’s self-respect relies on those definitions of ‘beauty’, then that respect doesn’t rely on themselves at all, rather it relies on others’ perceptions. An example is when someone feels beautiful at a certain time and as they age, they see their beauty diminish. Their self-respect was attached to a youthful beauty they once had, and so they try to remain youthful. My favorite example of the complete opposite is the famous award winning actress, Meryl Streep. I’m not sure exactly what kind of mindset she has, but the way she easily plays different characters that come along nicely as she ages, this shows me that her core and self-respect is very stable and never attached to one image or role.
If you are someone who feels that their body was an imperfect gift, I have the example of a piece of clay or stone. If you think of yourself as an artist whose purpose is to make something beautiful and useful with their bodies, then you would never be lost in the imperfections of what you’re given with. Even diamonds must be skillfully cut in order for them to be useful and pretty, just as with a clay or stone, they can be molded and crafted into pieces of beauty and function.
So how are our looks important? Since looks rely on other people’s perceptions, when we can manipulate our own looks, we can also change the way people perceive us. If I want to look attractive to find the right partner, or dress a certain way to get a certain job, these are all perfectly fine. If we manipulate our looks with the consciousness that our looks do not define who we are, rather that we are changing the way we are perceived, in this mindset, we have more freedom, and in a sense, it’s more powerful.
Another question that may arise is, if my self-respect rests on who I am at the core, then how do I know who I am at the core? This is a great question and a topic I’ll try to tackle in future blogs! =D
Please feel free to comment or send me any of your questions. I would especially like to hear if you gave this way of thinking a try and how you felt afterwards.
Thanks for your time! Since I enjoy other blogs that have photos and give a peak at that author’s life as well, I’ll try to include some personal photos every now and again in my blogs. Here’s a picture of me when my son was six months old and we attended my grandma’s 100th birthday (!) taken last October 2014. I want to share this photo because it’s a testament of the demands of looks here in Miami – my post pregnancy body took a lot of work and diet (and still does), but this doesn’t deter me from who I am – someone who still enjoys to cook and eat! =)